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Man who raped woman after grooming her with fake online profiles jailed for 18 years

John Osborne
John Osborne

A man who created multiple false online personas to manipulate a woman into having sex with him has been jailed for 18 years.

John Osborne, 27, of Aust, South Gloucestershire, used fake profiles to convince his victim he would come to significant harm if she didn’t agree to sleep with him.

Osborne, was convicted of 15 counts of rape following a trial at Bristol Crown Court last month. He was sentenced today (Friday, 20 September) at the same court.

Each of the personas Osborne created had their own name, phone number and social media profiles.

During the trial, the jury was told he targeted his victim and used four fake social media profiles to bombard her with more than 4,000 messages over three months.

He initially used the profiles to befriend her, so that she would divulge details of her private life before using it to threaten and intimidate her and isolate her from her friends and family.

Each of the personas he created claimed to know the person she knew as John Osborne and convinced her that if she didn’t agree to have sex with him then he would be kidnaped, assaulted and raped.

When they met in person, Osborne claimed he too was being forced into sex against his will.

Using the fake profiles he then claimed video evidence of the two together existed and would be shared on the internet while indecent images of women would be distributed near the victim’s home and place of work with her name and phone number on – effectively blackmailing her into having sex on further occasions.

Following his 18 year prison term, Osborne faces an extended period of five years on licence and will be on the sex offenders register for life.

He was also given a 10 year restraining order as well as a 10 year Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Tom Herbert said: “John Osborne’s levels of deceit knew no bounds. He preyed on the trust his victim placed in him to rob her of her true ability to consent.

“The deception was so sophisticated that she did not suspect any of the fake personas were in fact Osborne and fully believed those contacting her were real people. As a result, she genuinely felt he was in danger and had to do anything she could to help.

“The manipulation and subsequent rapes have had a significant effect on her. She has shown tremendous bravery in speaking to us and has remained unbelievably strong throughout the trial in which Osborne forced her to recount what happened.”

He added: “This was an incredibly complex investigation which hinged on detailed analysis of electronic devices and not one which relied on DNA evidence.

“I’m proud of the investigating team for their commitment and determination to a carry out a thorough and independent investigation. This ensured the jury had the best possible opportunity to come to their decision. I hope this case gives other victims the confidence to talk to us.

“While cases like this can be challenging, I want to reassure victims we will take you seriously, we will support you and we will do everything we can to hold offenders to account.”

Following today’s sentencing Osborne’s victim had the following message to other victims of sexual assault.

“Don’t ever feel like you’re alone and never be afraid.

“There will always be someone to hold your hand and help support you through your journey.

“Don’t be ashamed to stand up and speak out in confidence.”

Deputy Chief Constable Sarah Crew, who is also the National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Adult Sexual Offences and Rape, said: “As a leader within Avon and Somerset Police and also within my national role, I would like to highlight the partnership working which was at its best with this investigation.

“The police, Sexual Assault Referral Centre – The Bridge, the Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) service and the Crown Prosecution Service worked closely together to ensure all evidence was secured, the victim was supported and a court case took place in which she was able to have her voice heard.

“In this case, the bravery of the victim was outstanding and this was reflected in the outcome.”

If you’ve been a victim of sexual abuse, recent or non-recent, you don’t have to speak to the police. You can self-refer to The Bridge, a Sexual Assault Referral Centre available 24/7 365 days a year. Visit their website at thebridgecanhelp.org.uk or call 0117 342 6999.

You can also visit thisisnotanexcuse.org for details of charities and organisations who are experts in supporting victims of sexual offences.

Anyone affected by this inquiry can call police on 101 or visit their local neighbourhood policing team.